Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Losing my religion

I do not understand how George W. Bush's reference to Harriet Miers' religion helps stem the rising tide of conservative angst. Has Bush and the administration misread another political storm? Do they need a new DVD?

The President said this today, recounted in the Washington Post:

"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Bush said. "They want to know Harriet Miers's background. They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. Part of Harriet Miers life is her religion," he said, noting that she was also a "pioneer woman and a trailblazer in the law."

The most troubling conservative angst for the White House does not come from the evangelical side of the party, at least not entirely. The real big guns are George F. Will, William Kristol, et. al.

How does affirming this nominee's faith soothe those wits?

How does it answer Will's charge, in the Washington Post:

Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers's name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.

Rich Lowry in the National Review published the following that has garnered attention in the aforehyperlinked Post article:

The White House and its allies have long argued that it is wrong to bring a judicial nominee's faith into the discussion about his merits, and any attempt to do so amounts to religious bigotry. When it was suggested that John Roberts's Catholic faith might be an area for inquiry in his confirmation, White House allies recoiled in horror.

Now the White House tells conservatives that Miers will vote the right way because she's a born-again Christian. This is the chief reason that some prominent Christian conservatives are supporting her, in a blatant bit of right-wing identity politics. They apparently believe her religious faith will determine what she thinks about the equal-protection clause, the separation of powers, and other nettlesome constitutional issues. As sociology, there is something to this — an evangelical is more likely to be conservative than a Unitarian — but to place so much weight on Miers's demographic profile, rather than her own merits and judicial philosophy, is noxious and un-American.

The Post article uses just the Roberts/Catholic v. Miers/Evangelical argument. But what is more important is that this religious revival of Ms. Miers provides little balm to the wits of conservative intellectuals.

It is questionable if this even sells to the target demographic -- giving the administration the benefit of the doubt that they realize Will and Kristol would need a little more convincing.

Tonight on Hardball, Tony Perkins -- Family Research Council -- said that religion should not be a positive qualification just as there should not be a religious "test" in the negative.

You're in a helluva mess, George. Do you realize it? Do you need another DVD?


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